SIDEQUEST – Procedural? Dungeon Boardgame

September 16, 2017

I’ve had this idea kicking around in my head for a while of a boardgame that involves persistant characters. It’d be RPG-like but without set dungeons the way things like Heroquest are using a tile picking mechanic like Betrayal at the House on the Hill. I couldn’t square a lot of the mechanics, though, and how they should work. I think I’ve figured it out, though.

First is the tiles. Originally I was working around this idea that they should be like Betrayal’s and represent a whole room, but I’m increasingly finding that’s not a great idea. I think what makes more sense is a 3 by 3 grid of spaces with spaces only “drawn” in walkable places, like no squares indicated over lava for instance. This allows tactical space for characters to move around each other, have a marching order, and have the chance to be surrounded. These are integral to the kind of feel of a dungeon crawling experience. When progressing through the dungeon, a player that discovers a new room would draw tiles until they find one that matches connecting spaces and the back would include the number of joining tiles on each side with art indicators of some kind (like stars or seals that represent walkable spaces on the sides so you don’t have to look at the tile itself to see if it will fit).

When entering a room, the players will draw an Encounter card and it’ll describe either Enemies, a Trap, a Puzzle, a Party, or nothing.

Enemies are pretty simple; it’ll say draw x number of enemy cards and place their tokens in specific rooms. Enemies may all be in the explored room or they may ambush you in the room your coming from as well. Some may say “Set this card aside until you encounter the Boss” as well and change how the boss’s fight ends up working when they find it. Enemy cards will have their stats on it which will be pretty simple; Speed for the squares they can move, Attack for the number of damage dice they roll, Defense for the number of damage successes they ignore, and up to two special abilities for very powerful monsters that are triggered when they roll certain totals on attack dice. A vampire might have a Blood Drink attack, for instance, that if they roll 2 Specials on the attack dice, they do damage to their opponent equal to all Damage and Special icons and regain HP equal to that number.

Trap Encounters will describe the trap and the consequences. It’ll ask for a skill test from the first person to enter and then describe what happens. Some traps may also affect other party members if they are near the door or also enter the next room at the same time. Something like a fireball would hit everyone, for instance, while a trap crossbow would only fire a single bolt. Some classes, like Thieves, would be able to ignore a Trap Encounter under certain conditions.

Puzzle Encounters are similar to Trap Encounters but instead of something bad happening if you fail a skill challenge, something good might happen if you succeed at a skill challenge. These are rooms that could be ignored but also offer an opportunity for more loot.

A Party Encounter is another adventuring party. This could be a whole group, a traveling merchant, or a battered party escaping from the dungeon. These will have an alignment, a potential set of items to purchase, and a minor encounter script. If the adventuring party is Good aligned, an Evil Party may attack, for instance, or if they’re battered and escaping if the adventuring party assists them they may reward the party with Treasure.

A nothing encounter is, of course, nothing happens. It’s a room that is just full of foreboding rather than danger.

So, the adventuring party itself…

The base game would ship with a set of basic characters with two class types; a Class Name and a Class Type. Class types determine the kinds of equipment that the Class can equip; Warrior, Mage, Rogue, Healer, Specialist, or Multi. Each will be color coded as well as symbol coded, while Multi will just be the codes that matter to that particular class. A D&D Bard, for instance, may have both Mage and Warrior codes. Each Class will have a set of equipment to start with printed on their intial character cards, a portrait, and a set of base stats; Might, Agility, Wisdom, Insight, and Fortitude. These are the stats that can be checked against and will influence things like damage as well (as a sword’s damage might be listed as +3, which means Might+3 attack dice). Instead of having base Attack and Defense stats printed on the cards, which I’ve found confusing in similar games with stat changes, they’ll have default equipment cards printed with the regular values found on other cards as well as having a space to place drawn equipment on the character card to keep track of during play. Characters will have seven equipment slots; Right Arm, Left Arm, Armor, Amulet, Ring, Ability 1, and Ability 2. Abilities can be found as Treasure (represented as skill tomes, spells, scrolls of insight, or special tools) as well as other kinds of equipment.

This same framework can be used to make not only fantasy style games but also games in other genres that could be cross-compatible. The real dream, though, is to have an app that integrates with some element of the card so that your character can be tracked in a protected, independent space so that when you join a game at your FLGS, you just pull up your character and jump right in if you’re in the right level range.

Next time I think on this, I’ll think about leveling and experience.

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